April 9, 2008

Wonder Girls woo voters to polling stations

Voter turn-out in Korea would have been great...
if only politicians looked this good... (Wonder Girls)

It's interesting to read, in yesterday's The Straits Times article "S. Korea lures voters with 'Wonder Girls' and gift", the herculean effort that South Korea puts in to encourage their citizens to cast their polls in their parliamentary election (read the article below). We don't have such problems in Singapore since voting is mandatory.

Artistes and performers in Korea must be rejoicing at this potential new income stream - fronting ads to encourage voting. Their only gripe must be the time they have to wait in between the parliamentary and presidential elections, say every five years or so.

S. Korea lures voters with 'Wonder Girls' and gifts

SEOUL - SOUTH Korea is trying to head off a projected record low turnout for its parliamentary election on Wednesday by luring voters with singing teenagers and discount tickets to parks and museums.

'We have decided to offer voters incentives and step up PR to boost what is expected to be the lowest voter turnout rate ever,' the National Election Commission said in a statement obtained on Tuesday.

Polls indicate turnout will be just 50 per cent, down from 60.6 per cent four years ago, and the lowest since South Korea held its first genuinely democratic election about 20 years ago.

Analysts said voters have been turned off by a campaign mostly devoid of issues and are suffering from election-fatigue after a gruelling presidential vote in December.

Even communist North Korea's furious rhetoric over the past week with threats to attack the South has been ignored by voters, long used to the sabre-rattling of their hermit neighbour.

To attract voters to the ballot box, the election commission is running an advertising campaign featuring the hugely popular 'Wonder Girls", a song and dance group of teenage girls.

It is also, for the first time, offering discount vouchers entitling voters to about US$2 (S$2.76) off on admission to about 1,400 state-run venues, such as exhibition halls and parks.

The conservative Grand National Party (GNP) of President Lee Myung-bak is expected to win a majority in parliament from left-of-centre forces now in control, helping him implement sweeping reforms to Asia's fourth largest economy.

Latest opinion polls suggest the GNP will pick up at least 160 seats in the 299-seat assembly with its main opponents, the United Democratic Party (UDP), lucky to get 100.

Mr Lee, who took office in February, has seen his support slide as his government stumbled out of the blocks by bungling personnel appointments and policy initiatives. The GNP has also lost support due to infighting over nominees for the election. -- REUTERS (Source: The Straits Times, 8 Apr 2008)

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